Hi everyone, here's my homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 30, 2017.  The readings for today can be found at:  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/073017.cfm
Thanks as always for reading, sharing and commenting on this blog.  Grateful for all your support and interest.  Have a great week - God Bless - Fr Jim

Imagine you were having a dream, and in that dream, God appears, saying to you Ask something of me and I will give it to you...

What would come to your mind?

Sit with that for a second.

If you heard the first reading today - we know what the right answer is... right? The answer we’re supposed to give. The selfless, sacrificial one... that makes us feel a bit embarrassed over the things that we might feel is a little less important as we hear King Solomon’s beautiful answer - for an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right and wrong . We hear that and it’s like we start to immediately judge ourselves harshly and put our lists aside saying "YEAH US TOO!" knowing that’s the thing we should be praying for. More than likely, that’s there too... When we hear that, we know that’s what should be what we’re praying for, asking God for. But there’s so many other things that come to mind.

Our families...

Our friends...

Someone who’s sick.

Someone who’s died.

That loved one who is going through a painful divorce that we don’t know what we can do to help them.

The other one who has a doctors appointment this week that we’re all worried about...

The kids - whether they’re 2 or 42 - who you never stop hoping for their health and happiness...

The things that stress us...

The things that make us afraid...

Ask something of me and I will give it to you...

Where do I even begin?

Just sitting with that question myself, my own personal lists of intentions - people, things, fears, concerns - as well as hopes and dreams go all over the place. I hope that our campus ministry has a really successful year... I hope so and so who I think is discerning the priesthood is being called and that I can help him make that step.... I hope that the wall in front of the Newman Center that crumbled we’re able to get fixed in time for the new school year (and that it’s not too expensive). I pray for so and so who’s dying - and I’m not sure what to pray for them.

My prayers are an "A.D.D." nightmare that goes from one part where I feel almost like I’m asking for certain wishes to a heavenly genie to a heartfelt prayer.

And I’m sure I’m not alone like that.

Which is why perhaps we can go back to that first reading and not look at Solomon with envy or the "know it all" teachers pet sitting in the front row trying to be impressive with the spot on perfect answer and instead see why it actually is the spot on perfect answer.

When Solomon asks for an understanding heart - which can also be translated from Hebrew to mean a listening heart - He’s doing so out of necessity. He recognizes the responsibilities, the stresses, the challenges, the tasks that he’s being entrusted with in becoming King of Israel. More than likely he went to bed that evening with many things that were weighing him down... not the least of which was his own insecurities (he says I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act) Just sitting with that, my image of this regal, aloof king melt away and I see this young guy, called into this role, not quite sure what to do next. So he asks the one who he trusts, who he knows – the one who has given him everything to equip him - to strengthen him - to guide him. To temper those moments when his instincts are kicking in telling him to do something impetuous. To be attentive to someone he might have dismissed who could open his mind to a new (and even better) answer to a problem that he is struggling with. To not allow the things out of his control be things he obsesses over and begins to view as his responsibility. To simply recognize that nothing he has, nothing he does, no one in his life means more than the Lord God.

That’s the treasure - the pearl that Jesus is talking about in the Gospel. Once we’ve come to recognize who God is... who we are - it has to reshape our priorities so that nothing that has happened or will happen has the potential of us losing that focus on the Lord.

Easier said then done. For most of us, each year, each month, each week, each day (each hour??) Brings it’s own emotional roller coaster of ups and downs that seem to renumber what is the most important thing, what is the thing we’re most worried about, what is the thing we need answered here and now.

The wisdom of King Solomon, tells us that if we ask for, seek and pursue that single minded, humble, generous heart attuned to the Lord - we will withstand whatever those extremes might be, because we will never lose sight of being held safely in the hands of the one who made us, loves us, and wants to walk with us here and now and for all eternity.


I just finished reading the latest on what has become an international story. Charlie Gard - the small, ill boy in the United Kingdom; who’s parents desperately were trying to find any treatment that could possibly save their son - they’ve been desperately arguing against those in their government authority who made the determination that there wasn’t anything left that could be done for little Charlie.

I’m not going to pretend that I know the ins and outs of this rare, genetic condition that causes brain damage that little Charlie has been suffering from. Nor will I presume that everything I’ve heard or read in the news or from people’s social media sites has given me an accurate picture of what the disease was or what the odds were for this experimental treatment to be successful. Today, young Charlie’s parents have dropped their court case in the UK basically conceding that there’s no longer hope that Charlie will recover. One of the story lines that has emerged that the UK’s dragging it’s feet on this case, forcing the parents to beg, and sue, and appeal on behalf of their son has made it less possible then ever that anything could be done for Charlie. Again, I don’t know if that’s true or not.

What’s sickening and frightening to me is that story line is even a viable possibility. In the not so distant past, there was this common held belief that Life was seen as the ultimate good... the thing that we fight for, protect, support, encourage.
- Yes there were wars - but others joined in those wars to end the carnage... and we revered the lives of those who made the ultimate sacrifice...
- Yes there were murders and crimes... but people were horrified and outraged by those occurrences.
- Yes there were sicknesses and diseases... but everyone rallied, from the doctors, to the families, to well wishers - moving heaven and earth to try to address those illnesses... particularly when it was an infant. 

Because Life was the supreme good. It was the thing we all shared in common - whatever race, gender, belief, class you came from... We all share this precious; irreplaceable; what many of us believe is God-given, but we can all agree is – this beautifully mysterious gift of Life. I can recall hearing cases where someone’s religious beliefs prevented medical care of a sick child going against the "Freedom of religion" argument and forcing the parents to provide the medical care because it was that important. Life was seen as more important than religious beliefs. Or at least - we realized we needed to be alive in order to fight that fight another day.

Never did I imagine a day where you would have parents, who had found medical practitioners willing to try something - coupled with the financial resources necessary to attempt this - being forced to beg the government to let them try to save the life of their child. That in itself has left me feeling a bit sickened... somewhat frightened... and definitely saddened. And so as I pray for Charlie Gard, and his devastated parents and family members... I also feel the desperate need to pray for ourselves to, who seem to have lost a sense of the preciousness of life.


Hi everyone... here’s my homily for the SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME- July 23, 2017. The readings for today can be found at: Thanks as always for reading; sharing this on your social media feeds and your feedback and comments... Have a great week! God Bless- Fr Jim

In college, I took a class called the Philosophy of God. One of the most interesting debates we had in that class was over Why do people decide not have any religious affiliation? Probably not very surprising - the major reason that those who fell into that group cited was: they felt people who go to Church are just like everybody else (actually, the way they put it - "people who go to Church are as lousy as everyone else") They said Christians were hypocrites, they knew "church goers" who were liars, gossips, cheats, etc. just like everywhere else in society.

The second reason wasn’t too surprising either - They argued "If there’s a good God, why does he allow so much evil to exist in the world?" People seem upset, (justifiably by the way) that things are not perfect. They are upset just like the servants in the Gospel today –why are there weeds among the wheat? Why isn’t the harvest going to turn out right? Why would the work of the good master fail?

There’s something to the argument... I think most of us are intimidated by these weeds. We wonder why they are there... We start to perhaps doubt the "sower" as we focus solely on the bad things in the world, in our worlds that have the potential to discourage, distract and upset us... We focus just on the weeds - their existence - their presence among us and forget the beautiful garden - the flowers that are blooming alongside the weeds.

Sorry to disappoint you - I don’t have the answer as to why God allows the devil to cast his evil into the garden (anymore than I can answer why I ever allow it to enter into my own life in when I commit sins) All Jesus promises us is that the Lord will take care of it in His time.

That, unfortunately, requires patience (something I’m not a great fan or practitioner of myself). We are challenged not to dwell, not to be discouraged, not to give more attention to the weeds or more importantly to the Evil in the world.

We are called to recognize the evil, we are called to resist it and to pray that God will take care of it in His time.

In the meantime, we are simply called to do Good instead of Evil -
to bless instead of curse,
to praise instead of criticize,
to forgive instead of resent
to love instead of hate.

The reality is that doesn’t make us feel too good, does it? We still are frustrated by those weeds in the field. But the more we reflect on it, the more relieved we should be about that... Thankful that God waits a while - that he tells his servants to hold back - that he allows the harvest to grow. Because truth be told - sometimes I’m the weed. There are times things I have done (or failed to do) that didn’t help the Lord’s harvest, didn’t glorify him, didn’t build up his garden.

And yet he gives me - he gives you - he gives us time to come back to him. He allows the evil to exist so that what is good might grow - not in the fields - but in the hearts and souls of each and everyone of us. God created us in his divine image and even though we sometimes act like weeds, we still have the potential within to turn good.

Think about it what a blessing that for us as Catholics, we are one good confession away from removing the weeds in our garden. To take time to do a true examination of conscience - to see the temptations I’ve succumbed to; the commandments I’ve ignored; the forgiveness I’ve withheld -and to ask for and receive forgiveness for my sins and turn things around.

Because what has always been a comfort to me... Is that recognizing how that was the case for the first ones who heard Jesus utter this parable... That even among Jesus’ first followers, men and women that today we call Saints this was a great truth. St. Peter - how many times did that guy screw up? How often did the one Jesus call "the rock" on which he would build the Church - turn out not just to be a weed but a thorn in Jesus’ side? Yet Peter would keep going through the difficult, painful process of recognizing his faults, recognizing his sins, trusting in Jesus love and asking (and receiving) His forgiveness.

For each of us, we can’t hide our heads in the sand and pretend the presence of evil in the world or in our lives isn’t there. But we always, always, always have to come back to the truth that God’s Love is stronger and even more real, even more present in our lives. So we’re not to despair over the weeds in our lives or the lives of others around us - and how ugly and destructive they are. Rather, we are to call on the Holy Spirit who is challenging us to yank those weeds out of our own lives - and to recognize what a beautiful world God has given us - what beautiful creatures he has made us.


Hi everyone– here’s my homily for the FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - July 16, 2017. The readings for today can be found at: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/071617.cfm    (Gospel is the shorter option). As always, I’m grateful for your stopping by to read this blog; for all your shares on social media - and all your comments and feedback. Thanks and God Bless - Fr Jim

About a week ago, a police officer, by the name of Officer Nate, was working an overtime shift when he was directed to respond to an emergency call. He arrived to discover that an elderly man had collapsed and stopped breathing. The cop happened to be just around the block and was able to arrive in just a few seconds where he was able to perform CPR on the man until the fire department and emergency squad responded.

Officer Nate shared that over the years that he has had a career in law enforcement, he’s been called on to perform CPR a few times, but that this was the first time he had been ever able to revive someone. Soon after, the medics were able to transport the man to the hospital, and Officer Nate continued about his day with various other calls and emergencies he needed to respond to, pretty much forgetting about this one particular call.

A few days later, while on patrol again, he was called back to Police headquarters for an unknown reason. When he walked into the station lobby, a younger man was standing there waiting for Officer Nate. It turned out that this man’s father was the one that Officer Nate had done CPR on and he just came by the station hoping to thank the man who had saved his father’s life. Officer Nate was happy and excited, and went forward to shake his hand just as the man explained that his father passed away the very next day. Officer Nate was kind of stunned and instantly stopped in his tracks. He said that he felt horrible for celebrating. [Thanks to https://www.facebook.com/humanizethebadge/ for sharing this story and the photo ]

We want the Hollywood style ending, don’t we? You know, the ending where the next day, there’s pictures of a grateful man in his hospital gown on the road to recovery shaking hands with a humbled but proud cop who could chalk this one up as a good or positive end when so often the majority of his calls, just because of the nature of police work, so often end on a negative, unpleasant note. That’s a very human desire....

That human desire is a recurring things that I hear from people whether it’s in a pastoral counseling or spiritual direction - or just friends, family members who are just catching up on life - People who do the right thing, with the best of intention and then being frustrated that those best efforts don’t even meet the remotest of expectations... which so often is followed by disappointment and discouragement flooding in.

Things like:

- We did everything we could for our kids...
- I studied hard, and unlike some of my classmates, didn’t cheat ...

- I’m a loyal, dedicated employee - treat my coworkers well and don’t suck up or cut people down...

- how come – and you can fill in the blank with a variety of legitimate frustrations and discouragements the people encounter (or we encounter ourselves)

Even as a priest, working in Campus ministry, I have to admit discouragement at times. Lord - I’m trying to be attentive to all the different responsibilities... I try to be supportive and encouraging to the students, the staff, the missionaries who work with us... I try to be open and creative to new ideas and outreaches - why hasn’t Mass attendance doubled?

The beauty of this parable that Jesus offers today in the Gospel of the sower and the seeds is that Jesus relates to the frustrations we can encounter in finding our sometimes best, noblest, most virtuous of efforts not producing the result we hoped for or expected. 

Think about what we just heard - a majority of the examples Jesus offers – three out of four of the scenarios, the efforts of the sower result in nothing. Birds, rocky soil, thorns all thwart the efforts of the farmer planting the seeds. But in that one instance, where the seed meets the rich soil it produces an abundant harvest, growing 100, 60 or 30 fold.

The more I sat with this parable, the more the quote from Mother Teresa came to mind - God has not called me to be successful, he has called me to be faithful. Just imagine if we really believed that... trusted that. God asks us to be faithful - to His word - to His commands - to His direction in our lives. He asks us to faithfully sow the seeds - being the best parents, grandparents, sons and daughters, employees, students, priests we can be. He asks us to faithfully, lovingly do whatever it is we’ve been called to do... He wants us to do the works of mercy - caring for the poor, attending to the sick, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned... And to do all of it for Him... knowing that sometimes our best efforts, not yielding the crop we wanted, doesn’t mean they were done in vain.

For the perfectionists among us (and here I’m really preaching to myself) that’s essential. God is in charge... not you or me. And God has not called me to be successful, he has called me to be faithful. Often times we may never know the importance or the effect of that faithfulness... of our work...

Officer Nate, said that as he apologized for being excited to meet the son of the man he saved only to learn he died the next day - the guy said to him "No, I appreciate you so much. Because you brought my dad back and I was able to fly in from Florida to say goodbye to him one last time before he passed." The officer revealed "I don't get too emotional very often in this job, but my eyes were flooded as we hugged." Another family member posted on her Facebook page: "Today we met the police officer that performed CPR on our dad and brought him back long enough for our family to spend another precious day with him. There are no words that can describe how truly thankful we are . . . you will always be in our hearts. Stay safe out there."

Not the Hollywood, heroic ending he wanted... but perhaps even more important and meaningful than he could have ever imagined. Jesus calling us to be faithful wants us to trust that the work of sowing seeds is indeed noble, important work...

So often, it’s our expectations that can take the joy out of things in life. That time we went the extra mile to help someone only to have them fail us in some way: They didn’t respond in a spirit of gratitude; they squandered the money. So often it’s our expectations that can take the joy out of being a Christian. That time we prayed for that sick relative; that time we pushed ourselves to go to Mass and felt less than inspired; that time we offered forgiveness to someone simply because Jesus asked us to when the person didn’t really deserve it (or appreciate it)

In all of these and countless other ways, instead of feeling foolish in helping, or offering or serving, Jesus wants us to rejoice in knowing that we were faithful. Remembering that all that we have is God’s gifts to us in the first place. He blesses us to bless others. And He is blessed and glorified when we go about, doing just that... sowing the seeds he has entrusted us with.


Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - July 9, 2017 - The readings for today can be found at:
Thanks as always for checking this blog out; for sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and elsewhere on social media; and for your comments and feedback. Have a great week - God Bless, Fr Jim 

On Friday the NY Post shared a story about Will Seaton, a man from Indiana who may have won the "Sweetest Marriage Proposal Ever Award." Will had been dating Ashley Schaus since 2010 - and from the very beginning of their relationship, Ashley explained to Will that she was one of the primary care-givers for her sister Hannah, who has Down syndrome and diabetes. If they were to date, Will needed to know that Hannah was part of, as Ashley put it, "the package deal." From that day on, Hannah was invited to the majority of the couples dates. 

When Will decided to ask for Ashley’s hand in marriage, he felt that he needed to include Hannah. So he got down on one knee in a field a flowers and asked Hannah to be his "best friend forever" as he presented Hannah with a ring, which had been a family heirloom.

Ashley said it was "the sweetest moment in my whole life watching Hannah be so happy and feeling so special." At which point, Will looked at Ashley who was sobbing by now as she asked "Am I next?" Then Will got down on one knee and asked Ashley to be his wife. Hannah was thrilled at Will’s gesture to include her in his proposal explaining that "He takes me fishing and makes funny jokes. He makes me laugh and takes care of me."

This beautiful story in the news really stayed with me all day. To see Ashley who is that caring for her sister Hannah that from the very start of her relationship with Will, she was so inclusive of Hannah in such a selfless way. . . To see this young man Will who had so fallen for Ashley, that he recognized the importance of caring about the things, the people that would matter to her and to not accept that as simply "part of the package deal" but to embrace it in such a meaningful way. . . they give witness to what a life-giving, truly loving relationship is all about.

So often when this Gospel passage is proclaimed, hearing Jesus admiring having the faith of "little ones" or like "children" is misunderstood. We can mis-characterize that to be innocent forgetting how mischievous kids can sometimes be or ignorant - ignoring how often kids can surprise us with an insight or deep, reflective question or even utterly dependent - forgetting how many children in poverty or war torn areas destroy that stereotype as they somehow survive in those unjust conditions.

Being child like isn’t about any of those stereotypes that we so often attach to the word and not what Jesus is getting at. The quality of childlike or little ones that Jesus admires is their ability to Trust. He is asking us to trust Him and God above all. To Trust that what Jesus tells us and reveals to us about His Father is true. To trust that what Jesus promises us will come about. To trust that when we love as He does - as He asks us to love - that’s how we will find Him, and find God in our lives now.

So what Jesus asks us to do is to trust Him and embrace a faith that is centered in the love and compassion of God – love that is not compromised by self-interest and rationalization, compassion that is not measured but offered totally and unreservedly, completely and without limit or condition.

May you and I who can sometimes be the wise and learned ones embrace that spirit of generosity and selflessness of the little ones just like Will, Ashley and Hannah so beautifully demonstrate to the world.

PASSION & DEDICATION - What's it for you?

Hi everyone, here is my homily for the THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - July 2, 2017. The readings for today can be found at:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070217.cfm 
Thanks as always for stopping by to read this; for sharing it on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit; and for your comments and feedback. Have a great week and Happy 4th of July!!! God Bless America and you and your families- Fr Jim


Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading this pretty lengthy and detailed book all about the 2016 Presidential election... Now already I can imagine people thinking - for good reason - "why would you want to relive that?" It’s a fascinating read though. It’s one of those books that had reporters following along with the candidates behind the scenes throughout the entire process - from the early primaries thru the general election night. The authors had unprecedented access to every aspect of the campaign, with the promise not to report anything until after the election was over. In explaining my interest in the book to a friend I said "Think of the Netflix show House of Cards - like most things, the book is better..." In that, I mean entertainment value, not going anywhere near making a political commentary.

One of the things that struck me reading all of this was how these campaigns have become these intense enterprises over the decades in a way that probably few of us realize. The minute, specific details that go into determining how every primary state is approached; the angst that different directors and managers for each candidate has over how many people from what county or town might show up to vote in a primary or participate in a caucus in each state; the obsessive nature that takes over the entire group of individuals in each campaign... it’s really eye opening.

While it’s easy for us to be cynical or disgusted by all of this - especially when we speculate how these obsessive aspects have led to more and more division in our country... There’s another side that hit me. On some level, despite my disagreement with all politicians and their staffs - I had to respect the different individuals involved in these campaigns. To admire the passion, the dedication they have in what they believe are noble and important pursuits. These various campaign staff workers literally abandon their entire lives, their homes, their relationships to fly to Iowa, for example, in the middle of winter trying to get people enthusiastic for their candidates... and then continue that mad dash till the nominations are complete and then prepare for the general election.

Passion. Dedication. For each and every human being, these are essential for us to tap into for ourselves - ultimately for us to find meaning in our lives. What is it that get’s each and everyone of us passionate. What are you and I so passionate about, that we become dedicated to it... Is it something that is worthy of such devotion - those are important questions for each of us to discern for ourselves.

Jesus raises those questions in today’s Gospel and is pretty direct about what needs to be the priority - for each and every one of us who dares to call ourselves His follower. After laying out some of what would be considered the most important relationships imaginable – the love of father and mother; the love of son or daughter - things that speak to people of every race, income level, culture. Relationships that by their very nature call for passion and dedication... After naming those, Jesus says that our love for Him, our passion and dedication for Him needs to be greater than all of those.

If we really let that sink in and take that seriously, the radicalness of those expectations can seem to be too much. Jesus doesn’t water them down, in fact, he continues on by reminding us of then the need to take up our crosses and following Him... of losing our lives for His sake. Basically telling us that when our relationship with Him is the priority over all others; when following Him becomes the thing we’re most passionate and dedicated too in life, our lives here will be harder. Because then we have to resist those temptations of fame, of prestige, of power, of riches in this world. Because then we have to recognize that the pursuits, the desires, the ambitions we have in this life - whatever they may be - can only go so far in our ever being able to achieve the fulfillment we are ultimately seeking... When that reality hits, we find that is often the source of much of the stress, discouragement and anxiety that so many of us suffer from.

In working with college students, I get to see this on display in a way more immediate and dramatic. The young woman who’s been training, dieting, disciplining herself for months and then not making the team - and is devastated. The guy who rehearsed, missed classes, skipped nights out with friends to practice his musical instrument and not getting chosen to be a part of a prestigious music program and feels shattered. Even having a young person applying to serve as a missionary - going through the lengthy application process, the interview weekends, praying and convincing themselves that this was what they were meant to do, and then not being chosen and falling into deep anger and despair. For each of these young people, it wasn’t that the pursuits were bad... it wasn’t that they weren’t passionate or dedicated enough to try to excel. It was that they were too focused on those things themselves. They had placed all their identity and energy into those pursuits - and forgotten who they were and whose they were. Which St. Paul says so beautifully in that second reading we who were baptized into Christ Jesus... have received newness of life. We are His. He calls us to this radical love of making Him the priority - because that’s how He loves us, as if we were the most important person in all of His creation. He calls us to take up our cross and lay down our lives, because that’s how He has loved us - in taking up His cross and laying down His life for each and every one of us.

That temptation though to allow other things, other people to become our main focus our main priority doesn’t disappear once someone graduates college - as most of us, myself included, can attest. I look at the times in my own life when I get the most stressed, most anxious, most discouraged. And in all honesty I realize that it’s not that I forgot about Jesus. It’s not that made a conscious decision to stop following Him and pursuing other things. It’s usually that all other things - even good things – became a bigger priority than they should. Even people who I love and care about that are on my mind- perhaps it was that friend going through a painful divorce or that relative who was sick - and allowing my care, my concern, my fear to become something I see as my problem. All of a sudden, something that I have no control over becomes a bigger priority in my mind and my heart. And sure I prayed for that person - or brought those obligations and concerns to the Lord. But usually with an expectation of "Jesus fix this...: rather than "Jesus fix me..." or "Jesus use me to help in this situation..."

We are meant to be passionate and dedicated... It’s how God created us to be... It’s what makes each and everyone of us a unique part of His amazing creation... So that’s why it’s attractive when we see those attributes on display. But today’s Gospel reminds us that ulitmately Jesus must be our priority... And then we are to pursue those different things that we’re passionate and dedicated to with Him at the center. Looking at the things that matter to us most here and now as a way to glorify Him. That not only keeps us in check so as not to set ourselves up for disappointment, it’s a good examination of our conscious (asking ourselves wow, all that time I spend doing – fill in the blank – is that really glorifying God?)

There’s a great prayer from a Jesuit priest by the name of Fr. Pedro Arrupe that is a favorite of mine and speaks to this - it goes:

Nothing is more practical than finding God
than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read,
whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love,
stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

May Jesus be our everything. May our love for Him, enrich and transform all that we are passionate and dedicated to that He is glorified in every one of our pursuits.